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Welcome to the DMs Guild roundup! I took some time off, but now I’m back and bringing you my picks from the new releases in April and May. (You can find out a little more about the break I just took here).
In these posts I gather together some of the best new releases from the DMs Guild. You won’t find many bestsellers here; the huge amount of new content appearing daily means that lots of great work slips through the cracks. It’s my aim to shed some light on those undiscovered gems, and to give you some fun new things to use in your games that you might not otherwise be aware of.
Before we get started, I have an Honourable Mention this month – Chaotic Evil Compilation #1 by Rafael Martins. I didn’t include this in the main lineup, because it’s a pair of adventures (well, an adventure and a quarter of an adventure, since the second half is a preview of a separate work) and I haven’t had a chance to run either of them. The main thing that drew me to this, and that made me want to bring some attention to it, is the the layout. I loved reading through this, partially because of the landscape orientation (which I’m really glad to see more people embracing), but also because the faux-real-magazine style of presentation is executed brilliantly and really made me feel like I was flicking through an old (albeit short) issue of Dungeon.
Now, on to the goods!
<tdTrailblazers of the North
|Title||Author||Price||Suggested Price (if PWYW)||What I Paid|
|Honor & Devotions||David Adams and OAP||$14.95||—–||$14.95*|
|Interesting Items of Questionable Quality Vol. 2||B.A. Simon||$1.00||—–||$1.00|
|Last Stand – A Worthy Death||Dave Panfilo||PWYW||$1.00||$1.00|
|Let Sleeping Guards Lie||Alex Clippinger||FREE||FREE||FREE|
|Magicka Serrella – A Book of Magic||R P Davis||$2.95||—–||$2.95|
|Manual of Masks||Rodney Sloan||$1.25||—–||$1.25|
|Sanctum Spells||Christopher Dornan||PWYW||$1.99||$1.99|
|The Hag’s Hexes||Tim Bannock et al||$6.95||—–||$6.95*|
|Zombie Wizards of Greesly Keep||Henry Bardwell||$1.99||—–||$1.99|
* I received a complimentary copy of this product, but paid for it after reviewing it.
Honor & Devotions
I've never been much of a fan of the Forgotten Realms as a whole, but I've always liked Kara-Tur. There's not a huge amount of material for that setting in 5e, though, and a lot of it can be a little problematic; issues of imperialism, appropriation, and straight-up racism cling to a lot of works in that vein, and often for good reason. So it's a pleasure to find a release like this, that treats the source material (and cultures) with respect and sensitivity at the same time as providing a ton of solid material to add new options to your games. Highly recommended.
Interesting Items of Questionable Quality Vol. 2
I really enjoyed the first entry in this series, and the second one doesn't disappoint. I find loot to be much more interesting when it's... well, interesting, and that's exactly what you get here. There are 13 new magic items here of varying power levels (though none are overly powerful at all), each with a quirky or interesting property. Some will be genuinely useful in the right hands - like my personal favourite, the Encyclopedia Enigmatica - while others will prove to be deeply irritating for your players (hi, Muck Boots). All in all this is a solid second installment that I really enjoyed and happily recommend.
Last Stand: A Worthy Death
This is a fun little product that adds options to make a character's final moments truly epic, worthy of stories you'll tell both in character at the table and in person in the real world for years to come. Last Stand encourages you to plan the blaze of glory that might one day come to your character, then hands you the mechanical means to make that a reality. This isn't something that you'll use in every session - it may well be something that never actually sees play at your table, if your party survive everything you throw at them - but it's still something I'd recommend picking up. It's fun and creative and I really like it.
Let Sleeping Guards Lie
Alex Clippinger is fast becoming the guy who can take any ridiculous prompt and turn out a quality product from it. Let Sleeping Guards lie is short but awesome, handing you a host of unusual consequences for seemingly easy kills. They're fun, silly, dark, and intriguing in equal measure, with a couple being genuinely upsetting. I can't recommend this highly enough, especially when Alex is just giving the thing away. Find a way to pay for this.
Magicka Serrella - A Book of Magic
This is a really impressive piece of work. Davis has converted over 80 spells of all levels from 3.x edition, wrapping them up in some cool Forgotten Realms lore and throwing in an interesting new creature to wrap everything up. I would have liked to see a couple of sample stat blocks to go with the Crypt Spawn, which acts more like a template than a fully-fledged monster, but that's a minor criticism of an otherwise excellent product.
Manual of Masks
I love masks. I don't know why. I just do. I've talked about writing a book of masks for a while now and have never got around to it, and I'm really happy to see that somebody beat me to the punch. I'm even happier to say that it's also really good. The Manual of Masks presents some interesting character options in the form of new Warlock pacts and arcane traditions, along with what I think of as the meat of the product: tons of masks and mask-like objects in the form of adventuring gear, torture devices, and - of course - magical masks. This book makes me really happy, and I think you should buy it.
This is a really cool idea; a new kind of spell that essentially allow characters to construct lair actions in their strongholds (or caves, or hideaways, or whatever the kids are calling them these days). There are also options to allow your NPC enemies to make use of these, too, aalong with some usual ideas for introducing the concept of Sanctum Spells to your game. The effects that can be created are unshamedly unbalanced and over-powered, if you care about that kind of stuff, but that is made clear in the text and also comes with the caveat that it's almost entirely up to the DM when, or if, the players ever actually get an opportunity to utilise them in the game. It's fun, creative, and deserves your attention.
The Hag's Hexes
Full disclosure: I've been working on an upcoming companion product to this release with Tim and his team, and I made heavy use of this book in the work that I did on that project. So I'm a little biased here - but the flip side of that is that I'm deeply acquainted with the contents of that book, and have had a chance to use them extensively. I'm more than happy to recommend this; it presents a ton of lore and information about an awesome monster that is fairly under-utilised in play. The new monsters and items presented here are great, the adventure hooks provided are interesting and easy to drop into your games, and the section on roleplaying hags goes a long way towards helping DMs run hags not as mindless monsters but as the cruel, manipulative, corrupting puppet masters that they are meant to be. I could build a whole campaign using the material in this book, and I urge you to pick it up.
Trailblazers of the North
Troy has put out a few collections of NPCs now and I've enjoyed and recommended them all, so it's no surprise that this is here. Icewind Dale and the frozen north are the favourite parts of the Forgotten Realms for myself and a lot of players (and we can probably blame R.A. Salvatore for that), and I really like Taylor's take on that area. His characters are gruff and hard without descending into the cliche of "gruff northener", and the rumours and stories in the Appendix will go a long way toward populating your northern games with interesting events and locations.
Zombie Wizards of Greesly Keep
I don't include many adventures in these lists, but this one grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Honestly I was hooked from the moment I saw the cover art, which is goofy and fun and completely in opposition to the usual kind of cover art you see on adventures (including my own). The whole thing is illustrated in the same manner as the cover, and it's a joy to read with all that art. In addition to that it's just a fun, well-written adventure that serves as a nice introductory quest that could well lead to a longer campaign arc. Check it out.